College campuses face budget cuts across many departments. Facilities and maintenance departments included.However, this could be the wrong move. Especially as colleges and universities work to bring campus back to life after a long year of mostly online learning.
Keeping up appearance has many benefits alone, including setting an example of what prospective students can expect should they decide to attend a college they are out touring.
A neat and clean environment also sets an example for all students on campus for how to properly maintain their own living quarters on campus and in the future.
Beyond the issue of a visible perception of clean, is the even bigger issue of health and safety.
Keeping students, faculty, and staff healthy while on campus is part of keeping them safe and cleaning teams play an essential role in bringing college campuses back to life.
Facilities and maintenance departments play a giant role in the appearance, health, and safety of campus. In order to maintain a healthy campus, they need the right tools and guidelines, so cutting the budget can do more harm than good.
A study done by Brigham Young University found that a clean campus environment has a significant impact on students and their ability to learn and concentrate.
Alan Bigger, APPA president and director of facilities at Earlham College says,
"In this day and age when services are cut in order to save dollars, this study shows that cutting cleaning services could have a detrimental impact on our primary customers, the students.”
So, how does a college campus stay clean on a limited budget? And how can facilities and maintenance teams manage the workload—especially as the need to increase sanitizing and disinfecting practices expands as colleges prepare to bring students, faculty, and staff back to campus?
Finding ways to meet increasing workload expectations while staying within budget can be difficult. There are ways to do this, though.
1—Create a Cleaning Plan
Facility cleaning plans are essential to streamlining processes and determining the most important tasks to be accomplished each day.
College campus buildings are often varied in size and functionality. Because of this, it is essential to walk all buildings, understand the frequency and types of use, and then determine the best practices for ensuring each building is cleaned based on this assessment.
It is even helpful to set up a metric system, based on frequency of use. This can help determine which buildings need the most attention and of what sort.
For example, a campus library is often a busy place and there are many high touch point surfaces: from door handles to chairs and tables, to bookshelves and even computer labs and study spaces.
A campus library likely sees much more traffic than say a classroom in a designated area of a science building, which may only see smaller groups of students at certain times of day (depending on the size of the campus).
In this situation, it makes sense to make sure the library is cleaned at least once a day and to help develop practices that others on campus can help support, such as wiping down frequently shared workspaces or technology with disinfecting wipes.
In fact, according to research, “80% of students believe they should be involved in keeping campus buildings clean.”
So, making sure your campus cleaning plan includes regularly refilling frequently used products is essential to support these behaviors.
Plus, having a proper assessment of each building means you will know what times of day are the busiest in each building, you will learn some of the common issues that come up from frequent use and traffic, and you will be better able to send your cleaning team in at the right time with the right tools.
Well thought out cleaning plans mean you will have more efficient teams, helping you to stay on top of the work without increasing the budget.
2—Purchase Proper Cleaning Equipment
Having the right equipment is imperative to saving money. When your team has the tools and equipment they need to get the job done correctly, the lasting effects of the work they do can be significant.
For example, when it comes to floor cleaning, it is common for facilities to hang onto outdated and run-down floor scrubbers and sweepers.
This can be an incredibly costly expense. Not only do machine repair and maintenance bills increase as machines get older, but it can also result in increased downtime. Which means staff time is waisted trying to figure out equipment and money is lost in both labor and equipment maintenance.
It pays to explore options that offer better benefits, as it is important to have clean floors. For example, ICE Robotics offers their full line of scrubbers and sweepers through their flexible, all-inclusive subscription service.
This option offers great service, in addition to the equipment. The subscription includes the equipment for a set monthly payment for the duration of the contract, plus it includes active maintenance and parts.
With the ICE Robotics subscription plan you are adding members to your team without increasing costs—in fact, the subscription can actually save you money because you no longer must worry about the maintenance and service bills—it is covered with the subscription.
On top of that, with their i-Synergy fleet management service, ICE Robotics helps you monitor machine usage alerts, keeping you on track with the daily cleaning routine and minimizing downtime.
You can even work with your team to identify opportunities for more efficient practices when it comes to floor cleaning in each building on campus.
On top of that, ICE Robotics offers a robotic scrubber, EMMA, and a robotic sweeper, Whiz, distributed in partnership with SoftBank robotics. Both autonomous floor cleaning machines are easily programmed to clean flooring on their own, freeing up staff to focus on other high priority and more detailed work.
This option can expand scope of work even more and support current staff to meet increased workloads.
3—Don’t Skimp on Training Staff
Properly training your cleaning staff is one of the best ways to increase the productivity and efficiency of your facility cleaning team.
Giving them one-on-one training, in the specific buildings or part of campus they will be responsible for cleaning, is a terrific way to show them the importance of the work.
Be sure to:
- Lay out metrics based on the cleaning plan for each specific building
- Review metrics based on most important job in each building (floors, bathrooms, surfaces et.)
- Explain what detailed work is the most important to health and safety and why it must be done frequently
- Follow up with reviews of work and where you see progress and where you would like to see better performance
The more aware and skilled your staff becomes, the less time you will spend on having to redo work and respond to complaints and concerns.
Additionally, training should be an ongoing process. According to CMM:
“Training is an important and an ongoing process that will help improve the chances that workers don’t just revert to old ways of completing their tasks and wasting your budget.”
Not only does this give you many opportunities to invest in and work with staff, but it also allows you to include them in creating practices that can be modified to better support your cleaning plan.
This can even include determining what cleaning products are necessary to accomplish the job effectively and which ones you may be able to eliminate, resulting in a more simplified and cost saving process.
CMM goes on to point out:
“By analyzing and improving current practices, organizations can achieve long-term savings above and beyond product price, while also helping to make a building cleaner and safer as well as enhancing productivity.”
Over time, the commit to training and supporting staff can save money in and have a long-term impact on the budget.
If you would like to read more about effective cleaning practices for college campuses, we recommend: Roadmap to Revamping Your 2021 Campus Cleaning Plan.